I’m new to your work and thought an interview would be a great way to learn more. What are you currently working on?
What I have been making for a while now is deeply involved with eco-terrorism. Since I began this project I have used mechanical pencils for all of the drawings and have been getting some really dark tones from them. Lately though, I have still been drawing with the pencils but also using white charcoal and compressed charcoal because they bring a lot of noise into the drawings.
I see on your web site, http://www.jerstincrosby.com, you happen to use ski masks in some of your work. What was the concept behind that? I know it’s outlined on your web site but for those who are too lazy to go there could you briefly describe it?
I started looking through tons of images of members of the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front and I really became drawn to the ALF because of all those masks. I think there is something tongue in cheek about the juxtaposition of the liberated animals and the people holding them. Probably because our cultures collective consciousness sees ski masks as a criminal identifier like bank robbers, and hijackers; it’s a villain prop.
When did you get interested in animal rights?
Several things happened around the same time that really formed my subject matter. First, about 10 years ago, when I was around 19 or 20 my brother and sister-in-law were becoming vegetarian, which I, through habit, picked up from them. Within months of going vegetarian, I was assigned a painting project from my teacher where I had to study Sue Coe, who was one of the first overtly political artists that I was introduced to. I think my work is very much along the lines of Sue Coe, except we approach the subject from polar ends.
I notice you use cages also in your work. What is the symbolism in that? These are the cages that the animals are in correct?
Every time I think I am making something new and different I realize that I always come back to the idea of containment. It seems to be the giant umbrella concept that I work within. The ski masks are containers, and more obviously, the cage.
The cage drawings are quite interesting to me. How do you draw them on the walls? How long does a drawing usually take for an installation?
The cage drawing at the LumpWest (www.lumpwest.blogspot.com) installation was originally going to be a wall painting. That was actually the first time I had used charcoal in years, and it was very unforgiving, and tedious. I start with a pencil outline and then block it out with the charcoal. The charcoal became an important medium as it could reference arson, something that an acrylic or enamel wall painting couldn’t do. That was a way for me to bring in the actions of the ELF and ALF into the work. The same “burnt” concept applies to the new charcoal drawings as well.
I also noticed that you use fire in your work as video projects. What is the symbolism with the fire pieces?
Arson, again. The video is called “Firestarter (ELF)”, and it features a lone elf lighting a fire and watching it burn out. The elf character is alone and paranoid, possibly ousted or fleeing. He is a figurative elf depicting the E.L.F. member that ratted out his friends to the FBI to avoid jail time.
The anarchy gardens are also interesting to me. How long does it take to make such a project? Are you currently maintaining an anarchy garden or are they just for an art project?
The anarchy garden is, “Protest Garden #1”. It is another E.L.F. piece, and is meant to be a sort of S.O.S. from the natural world. It is still growing on a piece of land owned by an old friend of mine about 30 minutes west of Eugene, Oregon. Planting the garden was pretty rough because it rained on us the entire time we were working on it. To get the circumference of the anarchy symbol we stabbed a screwdriver in the ground that had a tape measure attached to it, and then spray-painted the ground as we walked the circle. The photo on the website is from the first day we planted it so the plants are very small. I’ll be adding updates as it continues to grow. I’m looking for more places to plant different gardens around the country, if anyone has any ideas.
When did you get involved with Team Lump, www.teamlump.org (currently or soon to be offline)?
I curated a show in my basement apartment in 2004 and asked members of Team Lump to participate. I wanted to be involved with Lump Gallery from the moment I moved to North Carolina in 2003, so it was exciting when Bill Thelen (Lump owner/founder/curator) began putting my work into Team Lump shows. Now my studio is located at Lump in downtown Raleigh, and I help out with the space as much as I can.
Who are the members of the art group or would you call it an art group?
On our Team Lump Sucks blog, (www.teamlumpsucks.blogspot.com) there is a list of everyone who has ever exhibited under the Team Lump moniker. The members change, expand, and shrink as necessary for a given project. Right now, there’s four or five core members with about ten others that show with us at times. Also, Kay Whole, who doesn’t actually exist but we always list her in all of our shows. She has got some local press, as well as being listed in this years Art in America list of artists.
How did you all meet and what was the reason for forming the group?
Team Lump goes back to 1997, as a project that Bill started. It’s a way to exhibit artists from the North Carolina area to a larger audience. Bill curates artists into the collective.
Do you still live in Raleigh or have you moved away?
Actually, last weekend my fiancé and I moved to Hillsborough, North Carolina, about 30 minutes from downtown Raleigh. It’s very quaint and we love it.
Could you describe the art scene in Raleigh if possible?
One of the benefits of living in this area is that Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and everything in between is like one big city. They all have art openings and events going on, so there is usually something worth checking out. Lump is in Raleigh, going on it’s 13th year, Branch Gallery in Durham, brings in some pretty amazing work, and Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art has been a huge addition since it opened a few years ago.
I noticed on your web site that you have just recently began producing a public access contemporary art show. Can you describe that project if possible?
Acid Rain Production (www.acidrainproduction.com) is a venue for new media artists to have their work exhibited to an audience that otherwise may never come to an art gallery. It provides a link between video artists and people who like to watch TV, like myself. In a gallery situation, artists generally show a video piece looping on a monitor, and that is the basic idea for the show. For one hour, twice a week, for one month we loop one video piece. My co-producer, David Colagiovanni, has been enormously helpful with the show. We are choosing artists from all over, and getting some good response from it. Coming up this fall and spring we have, Lydia Moyer, Peter Burr of Hooliganship, Jesse McClean, Jason Polan, Niels Post, Bill Thelen, and Paperrad.
Do you have any shows planned for the future?
Next year I have a few one man shows that I’m working toward, and I’m hoping to find more land to plant protest gardens. With the Team Lump collective, we are doing installations in Baltimore and London in the spring and summer of 2009.
Any advice you’d like to pass down to others?
I saw a Mike Watt concert about 6 years ago and after the band stopped playing and everyone was clapping and screaming, he said into the mic, “Start your own band”. That’s the best advice I’ve ever heard. I think that applies to artists, bloggers, and cable access shows. After a different show, I asked Mike Watt how he met Raymond Pettibon, and all he said was, “Punk Rock….Hollywood!”.